Federal stalemate imperils CBP Trade Symposium
The Commercial Operations Advisory Committee meeting and Trade Symposium scheduled by U.S. Customs for next week are threatened by the looming shutdown of the federal government.
Congress has not passed appropriations bills to fund federal departments for the fiscal year beginning last Oct. 1 and government operations have continued under a series of temporary funding measures maintaining current funding levels. The current continuing budget resolution expires at midnight Friday.
Republican lawmakers are demanding $61 billion in spending cuts, which is about $30 billion more than Democrats are willing to agree to. In the latest maneuvering, President Obama rejected a Republican proposal for a one-week stop-gap bill to keep government open.
An internal memo circulated within U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday warns the quarterly COAC meeting and the Trade Symposium would be “postponed to a future date” in the event the government shuts down all but essential services.
The memo, the contents of which an official shared with American Shipper, said a decision on whether to cancel the events would be made by Friday.
No disruptions are expected at ports of entry that process cargo or travelers, or in other CBP field operations such as the Border Patrol, because those services are considered related to national security, officials stressed. TSA security officers will also be on duty at airports. Most workers in the Coast Guard and other agencies in the Department of Homeland Security will also remain on the job, for similar reasons.
The April 12 COAC meeting will be the first for the 12th term of the federal advisory committee, whose members were announced only a week ago.
The Trade Symposium, a popular event attended each year by about 800 import-export professionals to hear about Customs strategy and policies directly from agency leaders, is scheduled for April 13-14 in Washington.
Canceling the events is likely to cause COAC members and registrants to pay cancellation fees for air fare, and would pose a challenge trying to find another venue and time when CBP and industry officials could come together.
Hundreds of thousands of federal workers would be furloughed in the event of a shutdown and lose their wages. ' Eric Kulisch